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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

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2020 Best of Illinois History Awards

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Although we weren’t able to celebrate this year, we delight in honoring this year’s winners.

The postponement and eventual cancelation of the ISHS’s “Best of Illinois History Awards and Gala” was a disappointment for many of us, as it is the one time of year we get to celebrate the achievement of the people and organizations, publishers, writers, and exhibitors, who each year demonstrate the variety and depth of Prairie State history. We really enjoy meeting our friends and partners in history and thanking them for reawakening our passion for the past, but shutting the celebration down to keep us all safe from the pandemic seemed a wise choice.

It’s hard to believe we are already six months into the year and time to start thinking about the 2021 awards. Before we do that, let’s toast the winners and salute those who sent in the nominations that made this year’s awards possible.

Click the "Read More" button for the list of this year's Best of Illinois History Award winners.

**CANCELLED** 2020 Best of Illinois History Awards Gala

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the ISHS was compelled to postpone and then cancel our “2020 Best of Illinois History Awards Gala,” an annual event in Springfield at which we recognize and celebrate those individuals, institutions, and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to Illinois history in 2019. We will be sending out certifications and other awards to our 2020 award recipients this week.

Women’s Suffrage Explored in New Online Exhibit

Madison County Historical Society

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A new exhibit, Women’s Suffrage in Madison County, has just been added to the Madison County Historical Museum’s catalog of online exhibits available at https://madcohistory.org/online-exhibits/. Assistant Curator, Mary Z. Rose, under the direction of Curator Jennifer Van Bibber, has assembled another interesting and educational exhibit for local residents and students of history.

State Archivist Jesse White and Illinois State Archives Receive $60,000 Federal Grant to Digitize Photo Collection of Illinois’ Historic African American Photographer Doc Helm

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Secretary of State and State Archivist Jesse White announced that the Illinois State Archives has been awarded a $60,178 federal grant to preserve, digitize and provide online access to 21,000 photographs taken by longtime state photographer Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm.

“Doc Helm served as the official state photographer for half a century, from the 1940s to 1992,” said White. “During this time, he took pictures of presidents, governors, celebrities, citizens, notable events and the ordinary day-to-day operations of state government. He left behind a vast historical record, and this grant will allow the public to view and enjoy his work.”

Illinois Heritage, May-June 2020

Volume 23, Number 1

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This issue of Illinois Heritage looks to the history of previous pandemics and offers some thoughtful instruction on how our ancestors coped with contagion without antibiotics, the CDC, or the Internet. Thanks to Allen Croessmann and John Hallwas for their research and fascination with public health history. 

We also meet some very interesting individuals who added art and perspective to our vision of the Prairie State through our ongoing series “Voices from Illinois History” and “Illinois Women Artists.”

Our other feature articles in the May-June issue deserve your attention too. Beth Young’s article about Civil War-era nurse Louise Maertz is a tribute to our current care providers on the frontlines of the war against COVID-19; the summaries of civil rights pioneer Frederick Douglass’s lectures from his 1866 visits to Springfield are revealing of Reconstruction-era politics; and Guy Fraker’s analysis of a forgotten Lincoln legal case should illuminate lawyers and arm-chair scholars alike.

Be safe, practice self-distancing, be kind to others, and share your Heritage.

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